This article was originally published in Hometown Journey Magazine.
The summer of 2000 I had graduated from high school and was preparing to go off to college. Providence had led me to decide to attend Elmira College in upstate New York. On August 28, my mom’s birthday, my dad and I left our house in my loaded down Saturn sedan to drive to the campus. From the intersection of FM 565 and Eagle Drive, it was a 1,610 mile trip.
But I don’t want to tell you about that trip. I want to tell you about the months leading up to that trip. Sometime in June I arrived home in the evening and my dad had assembled a toolbox for me. It was red, heavy-duty plastic, and my name had been written across the top in my father’s distinct block lettering. He’d filled the inside with anything he thought I might need: pliers, a hammer, a level, electrical tape, zip ties, two screwdrivers, nails of various sizes, etc. (I still have that stocked toolbox in my closet at home today.)
A week or so later he came home with an air compressor that would fill a flat tire and could be plugged into the cigarette lighter outlet in the my car. He also got me one of those foil-looking emergency blankets. “Just in case you have car trouble in the winter time,” he told me. Over the next couple of months leading up to our departure, my dad also provided me with: two thermometers (one digital, one mercury), a first aide kit, two rolls of quarters for the laundromat, needles of various sizes and threats of various colors, flashlights, folding chairs… you get the point.
My dad has always been a provider. He’s always given of himself, his time and talent and treasure, not just to his family but to any in need. I can remember many instances of my dad going the extra mile to help out his employees, our neighbors, our family and friends. My dad has modeled integrity for me, serving others so quietly that, in our family, the right hand often doesn’t know what the left is doing.
When I was in about the fourth grade, I remember going into the pantry one evening and seeing an unopened package of Oreo cookies. My dad was in the living room watching the evening news. I went to him and asked, “Dad, can I have some Oreos?”
“Yeah, go ahead.”
“The package isn’t opened,” I said.
I’ll never forget the look my dad had on his face as he turned toward me. His brows were furrowed, as if asking a question, and his head was tilted. His eyes met mine, and he told me, “Jake, everything in this house belongs to you. You can have those Oreos.”
My dad taught me a lot about my heavenly Father, probably without knowing it. When we are children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we become coheirs with Christ. Think about that. The Bible says that means I am “heir of the world” (Romans 3:13). It means that “all things” are under my feet (Ephesians 1:22). God tells those who belong to Jesus, “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).
Can I confess that at the time my dad was bringing home all that stuff for me to take to college, I thought he was overreacting just a little bit? I was grateful, but I didn’t think I would use all of that. With the exception of the emergency blanket, I am pretty sure I did use everything he gave me. He knew better than I did what I would need. He knew what I needed before I asked.
I know that God gave me a great gift when he gave me Rodney Porter as my father. Not every baby boy or girl is born with a dad who will provide, protect, and love like mine has. But we can all know God as our Father. And with him, we can always say, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” God can be your Father if you come to know him through his Son, Jesus Christ.
Dad, thank you for the many ways—known and unknown—that you’ve cared for and loved me my whole life. You are a blessing to me, and to many, many others.